February 22, 2013
Last night after enduring a harrowing nerve-wracking ride into Galle in a tuk tuk, today we decide to take the bus. The bus driver is at least as crazy as the taxi driver was, honking and swerving past every vehicle on the road, but being in the largest vehicle is a great advantage and reason enough to sit back and – try – to enjoy the show.Unawatuna Beach is aesthetically and ecologically an unattractive place. What once must have been a stunning pristine cove is now plastered with the ugliest concrete buildings imaginable: hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. Commercial enterprises line a beach that apparently has mythological roots stemming from the Ramayana. When Hanuman, the monkey-warrior, undertook the journey to the Himalayas to gather the four healing herbs necessary to cure Lakshman – wounded while attempting to rescue the Princess Sita from the demon king Ravana – unable to locate them, he simply lifted and carried the whole mountain back to the battlefield with him, losing a piece along the way. It fell down in Unawatuna, thus giving the town its name which quite literally means, ‘fell down’.
Lounge chairs, towels, and umbrellas, rented by the day, are to be be had for a pittance, and we join the throng of holidayers lying on soft, spongey beach towels under bright orange umbrellas, reading in the shade and swimming in the delightfully warm, water.
There is nothing more relaxing than being rocked back and forth by gentle waves while floating on your back and when you’re sun-drunk and hungry, drifting into an open-air restaurant for a meal of fresh fish accompanied by rice and curry.
It’s no wonder, now that the Civil War is over, that European, Russian and Asian tourists are increasingly discovering the beautiful island, Sri Lanka, as an ideal holiday spot offering clean, affordable hotels with excellent food and service.
The bus is full on the way back from the beach, and standing in the middle without falling over while our driver abruptly stops and starts is a challenging balance act, one the senior citizens standing around me seem to manage without difficulties. The driver barely slows down for men and boys who are expected to jump on and off while the bus is in motion. Women, children and tourists are, thankfully, exempt from this requirement. Christof has barely stepped onto the lowest step of the bus before it takes off, and because it’s full, that’s where he stays for the rest of the ride back to the hotel.
We have afternoon tea on the white-pillared porch using the free high speed wifi to finally catch up with each of our four children on Skype. I use the internet to plan our impending trip to Thailand, looking at possible bike routes in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. There are so many available options, how can we possibly decide which one to follow?